“The city [of Montebello Calif.] is light years behind the golf industry in marketing and technology,” officials were told after commissioning a $15,000 study of why its municipal course has lost $5.4 million over the last decade. Instituting online tee times could bring in $350,000 in additional annual revenue, the city was told, and outsourcing course maintenance could save $300,000 in yearly expenses. Costly confusion was also cited from use of both “country club” and “golf course” for the property.
A study scrutinizing the city-owned golf course in Montebello, Calif., which has lost $5.4 million over the last decade, has come up with a number of suggestions to boost its bottom line, including fee increases for residents who want to golf there, the Whittier Daily News of Monrovia, Calif. reported.
While residents get a discount to play the Montebello Golf Course, the study found it’s too steep, the Daily News reported. Other ideas proposed by the study include significant upgrades to the course, better marketing and using an outside contractor for maintenance, instead of relying on city workers.
The $15,000 study, conducted by Pro Forma Advisors, found that the Montebello course has significantly less business than others in the area, seeing 40,000 annual rounds compared to 60,000 to 80,000 at nearby courses, the Daily News reported. The result is less revenue from green fees.
The study also found that parts of the course are in disrepair, there is little to no marketing, and fees for Montebello residents are on the low side, the Daily News reported.
“The city of Montebello is light years behind the golf industry in marketing and technology,” Tom Frost, who wrote the report for Pro Forma Advisors, said in his presentation at a City Council meeting on September 19th, the Daily News reported.
“Your financial control system and report of rounds is way below [industry standards],” Frost said. “You don’t have online tee times. You can’t go on a cellphone and book (a time).”
Making those changes could bring in an additional $350,000 in annual revenue, Frost’s report said, and hiring an outside maintenance contractor could cut about $300,000 in yearly expenses, the Daily News reported.
There also is confusion over the course’s name, Frost said, which could hurt the bottom line.
For example, it’s called the Montebello Golf Course on the city website, but a sign at the entrance says Montebello Country Club, the Daily News reported.
“When I hear Montebello Country Club, I assume it’s private,” Frost said. “The ‘country club’ name for golfers has a stigma that it’s a private facility and you have to be a member to play there.”
“You’ve got a good product,” Frost told council members. “You have people who care who work for you. It’s a matter of putting a plan in place for it to succeed.”
Joe Thomas, president of the Men’s Golf Club at the course, told the Daily News that he agreed with some of the report, including the observations that said there is insufficient sand in the bunkers adjacent to the greens, the men’s locker room is in disrepair, and a new restroom is needed near Hole 6.
“[But] I don’t like the idea of getting rid of the [city] maintenance department,” Thomas added. “They say it will save $350,000. How do they calculate that? Why do we want to turn our everyday daily operation to a stranger?”
The council took no action on the report after Eddie Preciado, chairman of the city Golf Commission, complained that he didn’t get the report until the day of the council meeting, the Daily News reported. Council members asked that the commission get a chance to look at and discuss the report.
Still, Preciado had initial complaints, especially about the proposal to raise residents’ green fees by $5, from $20 to $25 on weekdays and from $25 to $30 on weekends, the Daily News reported. Montebello seniors would see their fees raised by $4, from $13 to $17.
Those increases would generate about $40,000, according to Frost. There’s no proposal to raise green fees for nonresidents, who pay as little as $22 (for seniors) to $42 for 18-hole weekend play.
Preciado predicted locals will opt to play elsewhere, the Daily News reported. “We’re losing people there,” he said.
However, Frost pointed out that Montebello’s residential fees are quite low and residents would be hard-pressed to find an alternative with lower fees.
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